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Tom Cruise Honors a Legal 'Top Gun'

Cruise and Yas The memorial service at the federal courthouse in Boston this week for lawyer Earle C. Cooley was attended by a who's who of the city's legal community. It also included one Hollywood A-lister -- Tom Cruise.

Cooley was a legendary trial lawyer in Massachusetts who founded the law firm Cooley Manion Jones and who represented major Boston-area clients including Boston University and the Boston Celtics. Cooley died of heart failure Oct. 16 at the age of 77.

By all accounts, this week's memorial at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse was a fitting tribute to this giant of the trial bar. Some 500 lawyers and judges were there. Among those who spoke in his honor were former Boston University President John Silber, former state Attorney General Frank Bellotti, and U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, who reportedly drew laughs when she recalled that Cooley had once paid her the ultimate compliment by telling her that she was an exceptional lawyer, "for a broad."

Still, it is not every lawyer whose memorial draws the attendance of Tom Cruise. The Cruise-Cooley connection is the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a prominent member. Cooley was the church's top lawyer for many years. He handled the arrangements for L. Ron Hubbard to be cremated after the Scientology founder died in 1986 and he was known for aggressively litigating against those who took on the church.

"The Scientology church litigates hard, and I’m not ashamed of being part of that," Cooley told the Boston Phoenix in 1996. "That goes with the territory. But I have never abused the legal system on behalf of the Church of Scientology or any other client."

Cruise had been in Boston making a film and delayed his departure a day to attend the memorial. He was there along with Scientology's current leader, David Miscavige, who was among the evening's speakers. One attendee I spoke to was unaware Cruise had been at the event. Another told the Boston Herald that she mistook Cruise for "just another lawyer."

But the presence of a major Hollywood celebrity was not lost on David Yas, publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. As he writes at his blog, The AffiDavid, he managed to meet Cruise and get of photo of himself and the actor together. "For what it’s worth, the actor is as charming and slick in person as he is on screen," Yas writes. "I meekly admitted to him that I had seen 'Risky Business' about 300 times. He smiled and told me to keep going."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 18, 2009 at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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